A controversial monument in Rockville has been vandalized.
Police got a tweet from an Uber driver around 6 a.m. Monday with a photo of the vandalized statue of a Confederate soldier. The words “Black Lives Matter” were spray painted on the monument.
Vandalism is a misdemeanor in Maryland. It is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Hate crimes carry a tougher penalty.
“We’re not 100% sure at this time. We're not classifying it as a hate crime because we don't know the motivation behind. As you know, ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been proliferated throughout the media,” said Maj. Michael England with Rockville City Police.
Rockville City Police are investigating. There is no video camera on the spot, which is next to the Red Brick Courthouse.
“It was an unusual time for someone to be out and about. You know, someone boasting about it, ‘Hey, guess what I did.’ They might post something on social media,” said England.
The 102-year-old monument was dedicated to the people of Montgomery County who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal said the vandalism was wrong but understandable.
“Black lives matter. And we're part of the national conversation in which the African American community is seeking recognition for its very legitimate grievances and it's not at all surprising that images of the Confederacy would get a response,” said Leventhal.
County Executive Isiah Leggett has ordered the statue moved. Now, they are working on deciding where to put it. One option is storage.
“My colleagues overwhelmingly feel, here at the council, that this statue should be moved. To have it on county property, in the heart of the county seat, implies an endorsement,” said Leventhal.
A private meeting was scheduled Monday night to come up with a solution about where to move the Confederate monument. Advocates for historical preservation and African American leaders planned to attend.
Police said the county will use a pressure washer to remove the spray paint. No arrests have been made.